The Nahj al-Balagha (Arabic: نهج البلاغة "Peak of Eloquence") is the most famous collection of sermons, letters, tafsirs and narrations attributed to Ali (Ali ibn Abi Talib), cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad. It was collected by Sharif Razi, a Shia scholar in the 4th century.
Known for its eloquent content, it is considered a masterpiece of literature in Shi'a Islam, second only to the Qur'an and Prophetic narrations.
Nahj means open way, road, course, method or manner. Balaghah means eloquence, art of good style and communication, rhetoric etc.
Nahj al Balagha is a collection of 241 sermons, 79 letters, and 489 utterances. As per each new publishing versus past volumes, the number of sermons, letters and utterances has varied from 238 to 241, 77 to 79, and 463 to 489, respectively.
The book narrates from Ali on a wide variety of topics, ranging from the creation of the world, the creation of Adam, end of the Universe and the arrival of Imam al-Mahdi.
Since the book is a literary work meant to demonstrate Ali's eloquence, it does not gather all of Ali's sermons. Instead, only segments deemed to possess greater literary value are included. The book also lacks an exact sourcing of this content. As a result, in recent years some researchers have focused their work on finding the exact source of these sermons and letters. Masadir Nahj al-Balagha wa asaniduh written by ‘Abd az-Zahra' al-Husayni al-Khatib introduces some of these. An alternative sourcing of the book's content by Muhammad Baqir al-Mahmudi represents all of ‘Ali's extant speeches, sermons, decrees, epistles, prayers, and sayings that are found in Nahj al-Balagha. Thus, except some aphorisms, the original source of all the content of Nahj al-balaghah has been determined.
The collection is regarded by the Shi‘ah as authentic, although it is not included in their Hadith books. Ibn Abi al-Hadid's (d. 656/1258) commentary and collection, Shahr Nahj al-Balagha, is widely disseminated.
Although some Sunni scholars do not regard the book as an authentic work, many scholars and jurists of repute do attest to the authenticity of some sermons included in the book. According to one Shi‘i source, the first person to raise doubts about its attribution to Ali was Ibn Khallikan - A Sunni scholar (d. 1211/1282).
Translations of Nahj al-BalaghaEdit
- Nahj al-balaghah / Peak of Eloquence. 3rd ed. Trans. Sayed ‘Ali Reza. Elmhurst: Tahrike Tarsile, 1984.
- Nahj al-balaghah. Ed. Muhyi al-Din ‘Abd al-Hamid with commentary from al-Shaykh Muhammad ‘Abduh. 3 vols. al-Qahirah: Matba‘at al-Istiqamah, n.d.
- La voie de l’éloquence. Ed. Sayyid ‘Attia Abul Naga. Trans. Samih ‘Atef El Zein et al. 2nd ed. Qum: Ansariyan, n.d.
- Nahj al-balagha / Calea vorbirii alese. Trans. George Grigore. Cluj-Napoca: Kriterion, 2008.
- Путь красноречия (Put' krasnorechiya). Trans. Abdulkarim Taras Cherniyenko. Moscow: Восточная литература (Vostochnaya literatura), 2008.
- La cumbre de la elocuencia. Trans. Mohammed ‘Alí Anzaldúa-Morales. Elmhurst: Tahrike Tarsile, 1988.